Bloomberg was skewered by Warren at last night's debate — whether he hired audience members to cheer for him or not

Michael Arceneaux
Candidates prepare to take part in the Democratic debate in Charleston, South Carolina: AFP via Getty Images

All Mike Bloomberg had to do at last night’s ultimately dreadful Democratic presidential debate to earn a passing grade was not stand completely idle as Elizabeth Warren verbally stomped over him. Was he successful? I suppose. Bloomberg did manage to offer complete sentences in response to some of Warren’s criticisms, but that doesn’t mean what he said in response was especially good or useful to his campaign either.

When asked why she felt that the billionaire was a risky candidate, Warren rightly highlighted Bloomberg's support of anti-choice GOP candidates along with Republican Senators like Lindsey Graham and former Senator Scott Brown, who Warren defeated in a race in the past. And then there was Warren’s continued scrutiny of Bloomberg and his company’s treatment of women. The most contentious exchange between them was when Warren referenced a claim from a recent Washington Post story that Bloomberg once told a female employee of his to terminate her pregnancy by saying, “Kill it.”

“Categorically never said it,” Bloomberg said in response. “When I was accused of doing it, we couldn't figure out what she was talking about. But right now, I'm sorry if she heard what she thought she heard or… whatever happened, I didn't take any pleasure in that.”

Warren turned to her larger point: “The Bloomberg corporations and Mayor Bloomberg himself have been accused of discrimination. They are bound by nondisclosures so that they cannot speak. If he says there is nothing to hide here, then sign a blanket release and let those women speak out.”

In response, Bloomberg said it was “probably wrong” to make jokes he’d made, adding, “If it bothered them, I was wrong, and I apologize. I'm sorry for that.” As for Warren’s request that all employees be released from NDAs, Bloomberg countered, “The trouble with this Senator is enough is never enough.”

In the week that Harvey Weinstein became a convicted rapist, it is unconscionable for any man, much less one seeking the presidency, to stand on a stage and tell a woman she is never satisfied because she wants him to end a known practice employed by powerful sexual abusers. What a joke of a person. (Damn, there goes a potential additional $2500 in income.)

Some have challenged Warren on her strategy and her remarks. In a post-debate interview with Chris Matthews, the MSNBC host said to Warren: "You believe he's lying? ...Why would he lie? Just to protect himself? ...You’re confident of your accusation?" Warren cited the woman’s word — imagine that.

It was a cringe-inducing exchange that illustrated once again why Matthews (among others) is ill-equipped to comment on our contemporary political era. And Bloomberg is just as equally unprepared to lead it, given he offered equally less impressive answers about his past comments praising redlining along with stop and frisk. I’m baffled and frustrated by his invocation of 9/11 to deflect from criticism of his racist policies. As for reports that Bloomberg hired a comedy writer to punch up his material, one assumes they are fans of Liz and Bernie.

Those aren’t the only people Bloomberg has been accused of hiring, either. Many have pointed out that a Democratic audience doesn’t usually boo “attacks on billionaires”, never mind cheer a candidate who’s flubbing his lines and getting things wrong. Who knows if Bloomberg really did corral some “supporters” into turning up? Either way, I do believe the cheers for Joe Biden were real — if for no other reason than the fact that he finally decided to be present in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary after running for so long.

I’m not sure if Elizabeth Warren’s further dismantling of Elizabeth Warren will give her campaign the boost it needs. There are sparkles of light her supporters can look to. In their new endorsement of the Massachusetts Senator for president, the Boston Globe editorial board wrote, “Fearless and brilliant on her feet, Warren has the greatest potential among the candidates to lay bare Trump’s weaknesses on a debate stage.”

Typically, a local paper boosting its home Senator for president is much ado about nothing, but in November 2018, this same editorial board published “Don’t run Senator Warren, don’t run.” Warren, the fighter, appears to resonate with voters the most. It may somehow still lead her to presidency; it may not be enough. At least as it stands now, she can claim that when it comes to her promise of bringing the wealthy and powerful to heel, Elizabeth Warren can deliver.